PASAY CITY, Philippines—He hails from a place known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. But Lester Edoc left the chilly confines of Baguio City to pursue his ambition to be a professional poker player and after a proverbial roller coaster ride, he is among the stalwarts of the game; not only in the Philippines, but across Asia as well.
Edoc, fresh off his victory at the Metro Card Club “Walk to a Million” event had recently also won in the renowned card room’s PhP2,000.000 guaranteed tourney last February.
His biggest career cash was triumphing in the International Poker Open (IPO) Main Event in Resorts World Manila, pocketing the grand prize of $59,000 and being acclaimed as one of the members of the elite Team PKC along with fellow Filipino campaigners Marc Rivera, John Tech and Ian Brion.
Somuchpoker caught up with the iconic card shark during the hostilities of the “2M for 2K” tournament to inaugurate the metropolis’ newest and action-filled poker venue, MIKES ROOM.
SMP: You just won another tournament at the Metro Card Club. Tell us more about that victory.
Lester Edoc: (responding in the vernacular): I was down to one Big Blind in that tournament with still three tables left (after a bad beat—JJ vs. KJ, AIPF then a K hits the flop). I worked my way back and even folded a hand I should have called with (folded AT to a A7 shove) but luckily I was able to worm my stack back up and by the time it was two tables remaining, I was already the chip leader. I never knew that after I was down to just one Big Blind that I could still win the whole thing.
SMP: When and why did you start playing poker?
LE: Ever since I was a kid, I already loved to gamble. I was given a basketball but all I did was sit on it while I was playing “Kara y Krus” (a Filipino coin game). I left Baguio a few years back to try my luck in Manila but found myself struggling at the start. I was sleeping on the couches of Metro until one time a regular by the name of Aljarreau Galang staked me in the Metro 500 (PhP500 buy-in, PhP30,000 guaranteed) and I won that tournament.
He noticed that I had been sleeping in the couches because that’s how it was for me at the onset. I had no money and I would stay at Metro for three to four days straight then travel back up to Baguio.
Al (Galang) then offered for me to stay in his unoccupied condominium unit until I could get established. I’ll never forget his generosity.
Then I started railing (two-time Philippine champion) Kent del Rosario. I was there to learn from him and also help him in any way I could, like give him a massage and get him his food and things like that. He was my first mentor.
SMP: What made you decide to turn pro?
LE: When I met my second mentor “Kuya” (Filipino term of endearment for “Older Brother”) Marc Rivera. He taught me more of the intricacies of the game and after being with him for a while, I felt he had drawn out enough from me to make me decide to pursue poker as a livelihood.
SMP: What is your greatest memory as a poker player?
LE: Winning a championship on the same day as my wife (Ferlyn Cabaling)won a title as well. That was the time I won the High Roller Event of the APT (Asian Series 2011) and she won her first Ladies title.
SMP: What are your goals as a poker player in the upcoming years?
LE: I think every poker player’s goal is to win a Bracelet (in the WSOP), so hopefully someday I also win one and become maybe the first Filipino to achieve it. I didn’t go this year due to personal reasons and I haven’t been running very well, but I’ll definitely go next year.
SMP: Do you have any poker idol?
LE: Locally, it’s Marc Rivera. I don’t only idolize him as a poker player, but also as a person as he is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. Internationally, it’s Daniel Coleman.
SMP: Money Talk: What is your biggest win in tournament? What is your biggest pot in a cash game?
LE: In a cash game, I once won almost PhP2,400,000 in Badugi (at the Midas Touch Club in Pasig City). In a tournament, the IPO win is still the biggest so far.
Article by Noel Zarate